“You Had One Job, Tarly!!!”- Game of Thrones Season 3 Episode 1 Review- ‘Valar Dohearis’
Chekhov’s Gunman is a film and television blog written by Kevin Lanigan, a future writer of great TV and movies and pretty subpar Homeland-themed cookbooks. Below is a review of the first episode of the third season of Game of Thrones with lots and lots and lots of spoilers. There has been a small amount of negative feedback regarding the fact that I am not a scholar on this show. Those who read this review may wonder who is taking it super seriously.
This show is conducted by someone who hasn’t read the books. Yell at me if you want.
This is a show that is incredibly hard to review. Don’t get me wrong, I love it, and I express that love often, but it is such a difficult show to grade from week to week. I attribute that mostly to the fact that this is the most serialized show in all of the history of everything. Any other show, even the hyper-serialized ones like Breaking Bad and Homeland, resolves at least a small issue every week. Game of Thrones really approaches each episode as one chapter of a long novel.
This isn’t a bad way to do TV at all. It makes me want to do tear through the chapters long into the night like I did when each Harry Potter book came out. It just presents a problem regarding the idea of judging a book by its first chapter. Imagine if we graded Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by its first chapter, which was 90% about the price of drills.
This non-traditionalist approach to television actually works for the show in a lot of ways. One of its hardest selling points (a lack of name actors) has actually helped the show become so immersive and interesting. The fact that Jon Snow isn’t played by Ben Affleck helps me get really invested in his character’s story.
Tonight’s premiere was less about thrills and chills and spills and more of a “Let’s see what’s the gang’s been up to while you were salivating, wondering what the gang’s been up to” episode, so let’s review it as such, character by character.
The show’s finest character was in high form tonight and was great and I’m still humming that noise. Boyhowdy there were a lot of locations tonight…
Tarly’s appearance was solid if brief, still that “I’m totally not Sam from Lord of the Rings” kind of way. Instant sympathy garnered from his face during the “You had one job!” speech. I look forward to seeing him drag Jon Snow up a mountain because he “can’t carry the story for you, but I can carry you!”
Snow was more interesting tonight than he was last seasons because now he is actually interesting. After being trapped in a romantic, bickering, prisoner and captive lost story rejected from the worst seasons of Lost, he’s finally on the fore-front of something big. The new King of the North is a fine addition who I hear highly about and look forward to seeing Jon Snow bow as he sniffs his farts. The bastard child of Ned Stark is being used to introduce us to a guy who is really cool and is on the brink of the White Walker threat, which is about the best and most interesting place for a pretty boy to be.
Also, there was a giant, which I am always for.
The Lannisters Who Aren’t Tyrion
Jamie was curiously absent tonight, probably getting him some of that sweet, sweet Brienne.
Tywin is still as great as he was when he first graveled his way onto the screen. His disapproving-daddy stuff is absolutely heart-rending but done well enough to avoid coming off as an Air Bud villain. It just… it just doesn’t feel the same to have Tywin without Arya. And Arya was totally absent tonight and it was awful!
Joffrey’s return is welcome because I love Joffrey. He is an underrated and absolutely essential part of the show. The cardinal sin of television is inspiring apathy, and he does anything but, what with this pit full of hot magma that forms inside me every time he comes on screen. Oh Joffrey, you little ponce.
He doesn’t do much this week, mostly just introducing us to Margory. I’m not sure if she’s been seen on this program before, as this show has almost too many characters to keep track of in the gaps between seasons. But she seems interesting, and her treatment of the soldier’s boys was nice; far, far better than that very-killable bald man treated those now semi-nippleless soldiers.
And then there’s Cersei. Cersei, the exact embodiment of why the Lannisters are my jam. They’re conniving. They’re underhanded. They’re dynamic. While the Starks are off being sad and cold, the Lannisters are off being blonde and awesome and I love them.
The Starks, Who Are Off Being Sad and Cold
That marginally funny heading is absolutely right, though. Except for Arya, who has faded into the “Saved until Episode 2” purgatory.
Very, very shortly after Theon Greyjoy done fucked up in Winterfell, we get to witness Rob Stark done fucking up all by himself. He put his Mom in jail. I mean, she totally deserves it but, yeah, that cannot lead to good things.
Davos, Whom I Mistaked for Tom Hanks from Cast Away
After that confusion was settled, I remembered how interesting Davos can be and how it sucks that Melisandre locked him up. Status Report: Stannis Baratheon is now kind of a jerk and is totally whipped (Whoo-poosh!). This Melisandre business is a nice refutation of many people’s beliefs that the show disfavors women. Melisandre and all of her other lovely ladies argue that the world of Game of Thrones disfavors women, but the characters themselves are in no way disfavored.
Tyrion’s Inner Circle
Tyrion Lannister tends to surround himself with interesting people, further solidifying his place as a fan favorite. Tonight’s required Boobs Because HBO was filled tonight by the head of the City Guard, still working for Tyrion because even whore-lovers know that Tyrion, King of Whores is going places.
Littlefinger!!! Littlefinger was there!!!
Ever my favorite character, Lord Baelish again comes to the fucking rescue as he offers Sansa a way out of her I’m-married-to-a-psychopath situation. Baelish, you sly devil.
I miss the eunuch, who, too, has been relegated to Purgatory, but there was so much tonight to chew on that we didn’t have time to dwell on his lack of presence.
There! There are your damn dragons!
Danaerys has long been one of my favorite characters to watch, even though last season mostly consisted of the prime for autotune repetition of America’s favorite catchphrase revolving around the location of dragons.
In this episode she confronts slavery, the sea-worthiness of horse lords, and dragon eating habits and has already done more than she did in the last ten episodes of the show.
The size of her dragons raise some interesting questions about the time jump between seasons, as we found Davos on a rock still alive and yet the dragons have grown exponentially since last we saw them. But, whatever, because wizard did it.
One of the show’s first WTF moments occurred tonight as a magic teleporting child attacked Danaerys with a scorpion and so whatever the resolution to that is will be very, very fun provided it involves dragons, which make everything in life better. They’re the jetpacks of creatures.
Danny also finds herself with a brand new rival, who benefits from being someone who could be killed off at a moment’s notice without a single person missing him. Fuck that guy.
It is also with Danny that we cap off the episode, which ends on less of a cliffhanger and on more of an overuse of dramatic music that doesn’t fit the moment. Like, it’s just some guy. I get that he’ll probably be important in the days to come, but that swell is normally reserved on other shows for John Locke being left in a mass grave. It was really rather comical at a time where it was very hard to sway my fanboy giddiness.
And, Finally, Tyrion Lannister
Damn does Peter Dinklage earn that Emmy every time he’s on screen. I mean, just, he’s—he’s so good. His cliffhanger injury is still the only time I have checked Wikipedia to make sure that someone isn’t dead. He did some stuff, which I’ve already described above, so, yeah, maybe I should have done him sooner…
Kevin is on Twitter because who isn’t these days? Stay tuned to Chekhov’s Gunman for weekly reviews of Game of Thrones and Community, posts every other Sunday about topics in movies and TV, and a piece every Wednesday called Mexican Standoffs. Y’all come back now, ya hear?